Google+ Plans to Take On Facebook in the Social Games Arena

  • Now that the Facebook IPO has revealed that game publisher, Zynga, generates 12 percent of its revenue, it is not surprising to discover that Google also has big plans to use social games to build its Google+ user base.
  • Google’s plans call for a multiplatform approach, which allows developers to build games that run on Google+, Chrome and Android.
  • Moreover, Google is offering game publishers 95 percent of revenues from virtual goods compared to the 70 percent that Facebook offers.
  • That said, Google is starting with only 36 games. But it has scored some game exclusives encouraged by Google’s marketing assistance.
  • “We are a start-up platform,” explains Punit Soni, who runs games and mobile for Google+. “We are humble and know our flaws. As we grow, you’ll see new things. My work has barely started.”

Fallout: Shutdown of MegaUpload Impacting Other File-Hosting Services

  • The recent shutdown of MegaUpload by the FBI has provoked a number of defensive responses among other sites that may have similar businesses.
  • Some have turned off their services all together, while others are vocally pointing out differences between their sites and MegaUpload.
  • FileSonic and FileServe are preventing users from downloading files uploaded by others. has stopped accepting U.S.-based users.
  • “MediaFire and RapidShare, both of which are often used to host and download copyrighted content, have gone on the offensive, giving statements to the press that attempt to draw the line between their models and what MegaUpload was doing,” reports ReadWriteWeb.
  • “If the charges are to be believed, what MegaUpload was up to was particularly egregious. Still, the whole affair raises questions about where the line is. People can use any number of mechanisms for sharing files with each other, including copyrighted material,” explains the post. “If the FBI can raid MegaUpload and shut it down, what’s stopping the authorities from going after other services?”

Intel Says Ultrabooks will Feature Touchscreens and Voice Recognition

  • At CES, Intel promised that “2012 will be the year of the Ultrabook,” reports Mashable.
  • “Future Ultrabooks will have touchscreens and voice recognition, Intel vice president of PC Client Group Mooley Eden demonstrated at CES. Intel showed off several concept Ultrabooks doing things like swiping through a Windows 8 Metro interface via the screen.”
  • “Intel didn’t demo voice recognition, but Nuance’s chief marketing officer, Peter Mahoney, made an appearance to announce a partnership with Intel to put his company’s voice-recognition tech into Ultrabooks,” explains the post.
  • The company also teased gesture control and suggested that real-time language translation is “in the works.”
  • Intel’s concept laptop shows rear touch enabled display for alerts and calendar browsing (see 2-minute video demo).

Study Suggests Online Ad Spending will Surpass Print for First Time

  • “For the first time in U.S. history, marketers are projected to spend more on online advertising than on advertising in print magazines and newspapers,” reports Mashable.
  • According to a study released by eMarketer this week, U.S. online ad spending for 2012 is projected at $39.5 billion, which is expected to pass print-based ad spending of $33.8 billion.
  • “That’s impressive growth, especially since 2011 also witnessed a 23 percent jump in online ad spending, according to eMarketer’s calculations.”
  • Ad spending on TV, while still larger, will see its lead cut considerably over the next few years.
  • Total ad spending in the U.S. is expected to grow from $170 billion this year to almost $200 billion by 2016 when online will comprise a full third.

Apple Announces iBooks 2: New Textbook Experience for the iPad

  • Apple posted a video of its education presentation held at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City yesterday.
  • Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, leads a discussion of Apple’s plan to reinvent textbooks.
  • The company shows its version of the digital textbook with iBooks 2 for iPad which features highly interactive animations, diagrams, photos, and videos designed for increased student engagement.
  • Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, McGraw-Hill and Pearson are creating iBooks for the iBookstore, most priced at $14.99 or less.
  • iBooks Author was also introduced, which lets anyone with a Mac create iBooks, and publish them to Apple’s iBookstore. It will be available as a free download from the Mac App Store.
  • Apple also announced a new iTunes U app that gives educators and students with their iPad, iPhone and iPod touch what they will need to teach or take courses. The iTunes U app is available today as a free download from the App Store.

Video: Nikon Introduces the D4, its New Flagship Professional DSLR

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  • In Central Hall at CES, Nikon was demonstrating its soon-to-be-released professional DSLR, the D4.
  • Features include a 16.2-megapixel FX-format CMOS sensor, 10fps continuous shooting, a 91,000-pixel RGB sensor, an improved 51-point AF system, and ISO expanded to 204,800.
  • Nikon has really focused on video to better compete with Canon. The D4 can record 1080p at 30, 25 and 24fps. It can also shoot at 60fps (but drops to 720).
  • Two interesting features include HDMI output of raw uncompressed video at 125mbps and the ability to monitor stereo audio.
  • Shipping in late February, the D4 will cost $5,999.95 (body only).

Reuters Joins YouTube Partners in Launching Original Online Content

  • Reuters has launched Reuters TV, a YouTube channel featuring 10 original shows tailored for the Web.
  • The shows will focus on investigative journalism, presidential campaign coverage, finance, media, tech and personal interviews.
  • “Dan Colarusso, Reuters global head of programming, says the video has been formatted for an online audience, and does not mimic traditional TV editing styles,” reports Mashable. “The segments do seem fast-paced, accelerated by frequent intersections of graphics and other visuals.”
  • YouTube has 100 media partners producing original premium content.
  • Consumers are now spending four hours and 20 minutes each month watching video on the Web, according to Nielsen.

Video: Canon Previews PowerShot G1 X Digital Compact Camera

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  • At CES last week, Canon introduced its $799 PowerShot G1 X compact camera with large CMOS sensor capable of producing DSLR image quality.
  • Canon’s 14.3-megapixel CMOS sensor measuring 18.7mm x 14mm is larger than a Four Thirds sensor.
  • The sensor offers 14-bit RAW capture like Canon’s DSLRs, gives dramatically increased control over depth of field and has a large ISO range of 100 to 12800. (Small sensors have been a shortcoming for Canon’s G-series compacts in the past.)
  • Other features include a 4x optical zoom range of 28-112mm, a 4-stop optical image stabilizer, and support for Full HD (1080p) movie capture (but only at 24fps).
  • According to the Digital Photography hands-on review: “…the G1 X’s combination of large sensor and 4x zoom lens should still provide more compositional flexibility, coupled with equal or better low-light capability, when compared to a DSLR or mirrorless interchangeable lens camera used with a typical kit zoom. It should also overall outperform smaller-sensor compacts like the X10 and XZ-1. However, it’s important to understand that the differences won’t necessarily be as great as sensor size alone might suggest.”

New Study: Accenture Survey Finds that Traditional TV Viewing is Declining

  • In a new survey of consumer behavior, Accenture reveals dramatic changes in television viewing in 2011 with only 48 perecent of consumers watching broadcast or cable TV during the week, down from 71 percent in 2009.
  • According to Forbes, the results “suggest that consumer behavior on television watching is changing faster than anyone had expected. There have been hints before — like the much higher than expected Q4 data on video streaming from Netflix. The company recently said that customers streamed 2 billion hours of video in the fourth quarter.”
  • TV viewers are increasingly watching video on other devices such as smartphones and tablets.
  • Smartphone ownership has grown to 53 percent from 28 percent in 2010. Tablets ownership has also grown to 12 percent from 8 percent in 2010.
  • Approximately one-third of consumers regularly watch TV shows, movies or videos on their PCs.
  • TV manufacturers will be most affected by this trend. Also, multi-channel video providers are seeing cable-cutting becoming more real.

UltraViolet News from Amazon, Rovi and Samsung at CES Press Event

  • Promising signs for the UltraViolet cloud-based digital locker were noted at CES last week.
  • Flixster, which is owned by Warner, is growing after Panasonic and Samsung announced they will add it to their HDTVs and Blu-ray devices.
  • Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE) says 750,000 households have signed up for UltraViolet.
  • Rovi’s Digital Copy Solution, which will be used by Samsung and available on PCs, will allow consumers to add their discs to their UltraViolet locker after paying a “nominal” fee.
  • Another potentially significant announcement was made by Amazon, which “revealed that rights for electronic sell through have been secured from one of the big studios — still waiting to learn who,” reports Engadget. “Considering the true potential of UltraViolet can never be realized without near full support for all the online content retailers, and that Netflix has apparently withdrawn from DECE, this could be a major win for the over 80 companies that are a member of the consortium.”
  • The studios are still focused on content ownership. Engadget questions why people will own when they can stream for less cost.

Entertainment Summit: Masters of Film and Technology Breakthroughs

  • Panel members: Lori MacPherson, EVP Global Product Management, Walt Disney Studios; John Calkins, EVP Global Digital & Commercial Innovation, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment; Ira Rubenstein, EVP Digital Marketing, Twentieth Century Fox; Matt Jacobson, Head of Market Development, Facebook; John August, screenwriter (“Corpse Bride,” “Big Fish”); Thomas Gewecke, president, Warner Bros. Digital Distribution.
  • Impact of the cloud: Consumers want to be able to see their content anywhere. They also want to have their purchased DVDs put into the cloud. Excited by the cloud. The cloud should be easy to use like an ATM. For example, Disney Studio All Access helps consumers build their own Disney library. With UltraViolet, the cloud is an opportunity for ownership and choice of playback device.
  • On managing content: Windowing works. You offer the product at different price points, in many regions, at different times. It ultimately gives consumers more power. We need to create the right value equation with consumers. Enhanced content is value. Quality is value.
  • Impact of social media: “As long as they’re frictionless and you’re able to deduce what your friends want, new tools make it really powerful for people to find things,” said Matt Jacobson. Facebook is already driving traffic to YouTube. Facebook worked with Sony to see if great awareness would increase the intent to see a movie. When people said they were going to see a movie, they actually did so. A 1% increase in intent led to $1 million increased box office.
  • Effect on content creation: Some well-known artists (e.g. Ed Burns, Louis C.K.) have been able to go directly to their fans via online channels and social media with initial success.
  • Read more in Variety.

Variety Summit: Technologists Eye the Future of Entertainment

  • As part of Variety’s Entertainment Summit, industry leaders were asked about the future of media.
  • Included on the panel: Darcy Antonellis, president, Warner Bros. Technical Operations; Chris Cookson, president, Sony Pictures Technologies; Ed Leonard, CTO, DreamWorks Animation; Arnaud Robert, SVP Technology, The Walt Disney Company.
  • On content over technology: Consumers should not have to think about technology. The focus should not be on the device but on creating and providing access to great content. UltraViolet, as one example, was created to enable a connected experience — seeking to make technology transparent, cross platform and optimized for the device.
  • On mobile platforms: Mobility is a way to engage consumers and build a deeper relationship. Adapting to mobile platforms is an extension of cross platform support. Studios are evolving to support multiple screens. The challenge is how to provide the best experience.
  • On user interfaces: Unlike before when studios created the UI for videocassettes and DVDs, today content aggregators are creating them. We’re moving towards collaborative interfaces developed with partners.
  • On social media: It’s an opportunity to create a dialog with the consumer. We can create a community around movies. It’s becoming woven into everything we do.
  • On innovation: Innovation is accelerating and studios are tapping the skills of all their employees. You don’t have to be an engineer to have a great idea that becomes a new service or product.
  • Read more in Variety.

Entertainment Summit: Conversation with News Corp’s Jonathan Miller

  • As part of Variety’s Entertainment Summit, the trade’s Andrew Wallenstein moderated a conversation with Jonathan Miller, CEO of News Digital Media and chief digital officer of News Corp.
  • Video consumption is growing. Portable devices and multitasking are good news for consumption. It’s a fascinating media era since everyone wants content, including the CE manufacturers.
  • Must serve the existing model of MSOs and MVPDs but also need to serve the consumer with new distribution channels.
  • Future content strategies will be different than existing ones. However, what will become the new services? And who will build the alternatives?
  • As producers, we need to give consumers more content or risk declining over time. We should expect to see the channelization of the Web. But we will still have on-demand. News Corp. will provide a range of content to Xbox Live:  Fox, Fox News, IGN and Wall Street Journal TV.
  • Fox also remains committed to Hulu in an authenticated world. Authentication determines who gets content sooner, and consumers understand the tradeoffs.
  • Hulu co-owners opted not to sell, despite bids. They recognized we are in the very early days of digital, a market that has not fully developed. Hulu+ is doing very well as a paid service. Subscriber growth will be a multiple of last year. Hulu also has an ad-supported service, suggesting that dual revenue streams work in this space.
  • New distributors such as Apple and Amazon are servicing hundreds of millions of homes or more. While traditional distributors like Comcast only provide service to tens of millions as video becomes a secondary business to them compared to their broadband business.
  • “Content companies want to have a view of what the market becomes.”
  • Read more in Variety.

Broadcom Teases Android-Based HDTV with Wireless Sling Media

  • At CES, Broadcom will demonstrate system-on-a-chip components to build an Android-based set-top box that would feature DVR functionality from EchoStar and wireless “place-shifting” from Sling Media.
  • The new system would deliver OTT services alongside cable channels and, according to ReadWriteWeb, “could be the formula behind the phrase, ‘Goodbye, TiVo.'”
  • STB features expected to be demonstrated at CES: Android-based apps ecosystem enabled through a partnership with Myriad Group (maker of the Alien Vue), 3D environment for graphical on-screen program guides, built-in videoconferencing, interactive supplemental content (“similar to the BD-Live content on Blu-ray movie discs, by way of Adobe AIR for the Digital Home”), the ability to utilize expanded bandwidth to receive up to six simultaneous HD channels, and faster channel changing and scanning ability via a Broadcom standard called FastRTV.
  • “Existing OTT program services such as Google TV and Roku are already being integrated into Alien Vue; and to that end, Roku today announced its own partnership with premium channel Showtime for a kind of ‘previewing app’ for premium content,” notes RWW.

Digital Text Ushers in New Era of Publishing: For Better or Worse?

  • Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing service allows authors to upload changes or even new versions to published books. This allows mistakes or typos to be corrected. New information can also be incorporated.
  • However, governments and school boards can alter works to create politically correct versions. And readers can be tracked to discover how they progress through the material.
  • “An e-book, I realized, is far different from an old-fashioned printed one,” writes Nicholas Carr in The Wall Street Journal. “The words in the latter stay put. In the former, the words can keep changing, at the whim of the author or anyone else with access to the source file. The endless malleability of digital writing promises to overturn a whole lot of our assumptions about publishing.”
  • “The promise of stronger sales and profits will make it hard to resist tinkering with a book,” suggests Carr. “What will be lost, or at least diminished, is the sense of a book as a finished and complete object, a self-contained work of art.”
  • Are we losing the sense of having a finished work? Will unfinished videos and films be next?